Black holes could provide the energy to travel at relativistic speeds. Image Credit: NASA / Mark Rademaker
A new theory suggests that aliens could fire lasers at black holes to help propel their ships through space.
In a new paper, Columbia University astronomer David Kipping has put forward a hypothetical new propulsion system that an advanced extraterrestrial race could use to achieve relativistic speeds.
The idea is an extension of a method that we already use to boost our own space probes - using the gravity of a planet or other large body to 'slingshot' a spacecraft towards its target.
The same basic principles also apply to the intense gravity wells around black holes.
If a photon (a particle of light) is fired at a particular area around a black hole if will circle around and be flung back in the direction from which it came while carrying more energy than it started with.
This phenomenon is known as a 'gravitational mirror'.
Kipping's 'halo drive' would work by firing a laser beam at a specific point within the vicinity of a binary black hole system so that the newly energized photons are directed straight back at the spacecraft where they would be converted in to momentum - propelling it along at considerable speed.
This process can be repeated over and over to continue accelerating the spacecraft.
Kipping argues that an extraterrestrial civilization may be using such a system to travel throughout our galaxy - especially given the copious quantities of black holes that are known to be out there.
Exactly how the spacecraft would slow down once it reaches its destination however remains unclear.
Source: NBC News | Comments (11)
Halo Drive, Gravity, Black Hole